Guilford County Schools planning big changes to get students ready for careers

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Big changes and a short timeline. Starting in fall 2019, there will be brand new academies at Guilford County high schools that will focus on getting kids ready for the real world.

“We see too many students coming out with four-year degrees and still waiting tables,” say Linda Welborn, the District 4 representative for the Guilford County school board.

Time in class is not necessarily paying off.

The Guilford County school system, and school board, say they want to do more for children, so they’re making some big changes.

“All of our high schools eventually will end up having a signature advanced career academy and it will be a choice school for students,” says Kathleen Dawson, the chief innovator for Guilford County Schools.

Area businesses teamed up for a study to see what kind of jobs needed to be filled and who was qualified.

“Our kids in their future jobs, no matter what job they go into, it is technology-based and technology-related somehow,” Dawson said. “So we’ve got to make that part of their regular literacy like reading and and math.”

Here’s how the new system is expected to work: four to six academies focusing on manufacturing, science and technology will be added in August 2019.

Right now, the schools that will get them are unknown.

In fall 2020, the school district plans to roll out the rest of the changes, including adding them at two elementary and middle schools.

Each academy will only have about 400 students for a small, specialized learning environment to help them succeed.

“We’re not putting kids where the jobs are, so we’re doing the best from a very young age,” Welborn said.

There’s not a lot of time to get it done and school district leaders admit they don’t have a lot of the details ironed out.

“We’re in the process of determining all of that, because as you can imagine, there are a lot of different factors that we need to consider,” Dawson said. “And different stakeholders we need to involve in that process.”

But they believe it will be worth it for the next generation.

“I want this to work,” Welborn said. “I really do think it’s an excellent opportunity. But if we rush it or don’t do it correctly, it’s not going to succeed the way we would like it to.”

FOX8 did ask questions regarding transportation, where the teachers will come from and where the money is coming from, but was told they’re still in the planning phase.

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